New spider species discovery in Malaysian Borneo

This video is called Giant spider in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia at the Cultural Village.

However, there are also much smaller spiders in Malaysian Borneo.

From Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands:

Students on field course bag new spider species

Posted on 07-03-2014 by Menno Schilthuizen

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah Wildlife Department, Pensoft Publishers

As a spin-off (pun intended) of their Tropical Biodiversity course in Malaysian Borneo, a team of biology students discover a new spider species, build a makeshift taxonomy lab, write a joint publication and send it off to a major taxonomic journal.

Discovering a new spider species was not what she had anticipated when she signed up for her field course in Tropical Biodiversity, says Elisa Panjang, a Malaysian master’s student from Universiti Malaysia Sabah. She is one of twenty students following the course, organised by Naturalis Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands, and held in the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The aim of the one-month course, say organisers Vincent Merckx and Menno Schilthuizen, is to teach the students about how the rich tapestry of the tropical lowland rainforest’s ecosystem is woven.

Besides charismatic species, such as the orang-utans that the students encounter every day in the forest, the tropical ecosystem consists of scores of unseen organisms, and the course focus is on these “small things that run the world”—such as the tiny orb-weaving spiders of the tongue-twistingly named family Symphytognathidae. These one-millimetre-long spiders build tiny webs that they suspend between dead leaves on the forest floor. “When we started putting our noses to the ground we saw them everywhere,” says Danish student Jennie Burmester enthusiastically. What they weren’t prepared for was that the webs turned out to be the work of an unknown species, as spider specialist Jeremy Miller, an instructor on the course, quickly confirmed.

The students then decided to make the official naming and description of the species a course project. They rigged the field centre’s microscopes with smartphones to produce images of the tiny spider’s even tinier genitals (using cooking oil from the station’s kitchen to make them more translucent), dusted the spider’s webs with puffs of corn flour (also from the kitchen) to make them stand out and described the way they were built. They also put a spider in alcohol as “holotype”, the obligatory reference specimen for the naming of any new species—which is to be stored in the collection of Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Finally, a dinner-time discussion yielded a name for this latest addition to the tree of life: Crassignatha danaugirangensis, after the field centre’s idyllic setting at the Danau Girang oxbow lake.

All data and images were then compiled into a scientific paper, which, via the station’s satellite link, was submitted to the Biodiversity Data Journal, a leading online journal for quick dissemination of new biodiversity data, which is currently considering it for publication. Even though thousands of similarly-sized spider species still await discovery, Miller thinks the publication is an important one. “It means we provide a quick anchor point for further work on this species; the naming of a species is the only way to make sure we’re all singing from the same score,” he says.

Field station director Benoît Goossens adds: “This tiny new spider is a nice counterpoint to the large-mammal work we’re doing and having it named after the field centre is extremely cool”. The Danau Girang Field Centre is located in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a strip of rainforest along Sabah’s major river, squeezed in by vast oil palm plantations on either side. Despite intensive search, the students could not find the new spider in the plantations.

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First dinosaur discovery in Malaysia

This video is called First Malaysian dinosaur fossil found in Pahang: Researchers.

From The Star in Malaysia:

Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 11:00:34 AM

Fish-eating dinosaur fossil discovered in Pahang

By Isabelle Lai

PETALING JAYA: Fossil remains of a carnivorous “fish-eating” dinosaur has been discovered in Malaysia, with Universiti Malaya set to unveil the evidence today.

Discovered in the rural interiors of Pahang, the fossil remains of the spinosauridae dinosaur are believed to be from the late Mesozoic era, most likely from the Cretaceous period between 65 million and 145.5 million years ago.

This is believed to be the first time that fossil remains of a dinosaur have been found in Malaysia.

The dinosaur remains had been identified by a team led by Associate Professor Dr Masatoshi Sone of the university’s geology department in collaboration with reptile paleontology specialist Professor Ren Hirayama from Tokyo’s Waseda University.

Spinosauridae is a particular family of carnivorous dinosaurs characterised by its elongated, crocodile-like skulls with conical teeth that had either very tiny or with no serrations.

Another spinosauridae fossil had also been discovered in Australia in 2011, before which the species was believed to have existed only in the northern hemisphere.

Scientists had discovered a 125-million-year-old neck vertebrae identical to that of a Baryonx

sic; Baryonyx

in Victoria, Australia.

Dr Masatoshi will be attending today’s press conference, along with Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, UM vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin and the Science Faculty dean Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Sofian Azirun.

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New lizard species discovery in Malaysia

This video is about a species, related to the newly discovered lizard. The video is called Cyrtodactylus peguensis male chirping.

From Zootaxa:

A new species of karst forest-adapted Bent-toed Gecko (genus Cyrtodactylus Gray, 1827) belonging to the C. sworderi complex from a threatened karst forest in Perak, Peninsular Malaysia


A new species of Bent-toed Gecko Cyrtodactylus guakanthanensis sp. nov. of the C. sworderi complex is described from a limestone forest in Perak, Peninsular Malaysia whose karst formations at the type locality are within an active quarry.

Cyrtodactylus guakanthanensis sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other Sundaland species by having the following suite of character states: adult SVL 77.7–82.2 mm; moderately sized, conical, weakly keeled, body tubercles; tubercles present on occiput, nape, and limbs, and extend posteriorly beyond base of tail; 37–44 ventral scales; no transversely enlarged, median, subcaudal scales; proximal subdigital lamellae transversely expanded; 19–21 subdigital lamellae on fourth toe; abrupt transition between posterior and ventral femoral scales; enlarged femoral scales; no femoral or precloacal pores; precloacal groove absent; wide, dark postorbital stripes from each eye extending posteriorly to the anterior margin of the shoulder region thence forming a transverse band across the anterior margin of the shoulder region; and body bearing five (rarely four) wide, bold, dark bands.

Destruction of the karst microhabitat and surrounding limestone forest will extirpate this new species from the type locality and perhaps drive it to complete extinction given that it appears to be restricted to the particular microhabitat structure of the type locality and is not widely distributed throughout the karst formations. As with plants and invertebrates, limestone forests are proving to be significant areas of high herpetological endemism and should be afforded special conservation status rather than turned into cement.

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Small mammals in Gabon, new research

This video, recorded in Malaysia, says about itself:

Hose’s Civet and Small Carnivore Project, Borneo: Covert Eyes, Part 1

27 Aug 2012

Video footage obtained by camera traps from a logging concession in the Upper Baram region of Sarawak, Borneo from May to July 2012. Includes rare footage of Bornean endemics: Hose’s Civet; Tufted Ground Squirrel; Crimson-headed Partridge.

And here are parts 2 and 3 of that series.

From Wildlife Extra:

First survey of the small mammal predators of Gabon

Mongooses, genets and civets

September 2013. Working in the rainforest of Central Africa-a region known for its diversity of wildlife-a team of researchers from Panthera, the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Stirling, CENAREST, IRET and others has completed the first-ever survey in Gabon on a previously overlooked animal group: small mammal predators.

Camera traps, bushmeat and observations

The team compiled information from camera-trap surveys, direct observations and bushmeat studies, mapped the country-wide distribution of 12 carnivore species, including mongooses, genets, and civets, in the first comprehensive assessment of such animals in the country. The study appeared in the July edition of Small Carnivore Conservation, the journal of the IUCN small carnivore specialist group.

“Many previous studies have focused on the larger species of Gabon’s rainforests,” said Laila Bahaa-el-Din, lead author of the study. “None of these efforts have focused on the country-wide status and distribution of smaller predators, species that could be disappearing due to the bushmeat crisis sweeping through the region.”

The research team collected images and data from 33 wildlife surveys and 16 camera trap studies for the study. Other methods used in the research included bushmeat hunting records with information on specific locations, and fecal DNA records generated from research in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park.

First records for Gabon

Of the 12 small carnivores detected in the study, a few-specifically the Cameroon cusimanse and the common slender mongoose-were previously undocumented in Gabon. The study also produced a range-extension for the Egyptian mongoose. All 12 species are currently listed as “Least Concern” in the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

“This first comprehensive assessment of Gabon’s small predators is an important step in understanding the needs of these overlooked but important animals,” said WCS researcher Fiona Maisels, a co-author on the paper. “It appears that these species are widespread and not currently threatened, but the proximity of many small carnivores to human settlements and the growing bushmeat trade could potentially impact these populations. These new findings will help inform future management.”

The authors include: Laila Bahaa-el-Din of Panthera, Oxford University, and the University of Kwazulu-Natal; Philipp Henschel of Panthera; Rostand Abaa formerly of the Wildlife Conservation Society and now with the Gabon National Parks agency; Kate Abernethy of the University of Stirling and the Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale; Torsten Bohm of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research; Nicholas Bout of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Aspinall Foundation; Lauren Coad of Oxford University; Josephine Head of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Eiji Inoue of Kyoto University; Sally Lahm of the Institute de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale; Michelle E. Lee of Oxford University and the Institute de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale; Fiona Maisels of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Stirling; Luisa Rabanal of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Malcolm Starkey of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Gemma Taylor of Oxford University; Hadrien Vanthomme of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute; Yoshihiro Nakashima of Kyoto University; and Luke Hunter of Panthera.

Sumatran rhino filmed in Indonesian Borneo

This video is called Finding the trails of Sumatran Rhino in the Heart of Borneo.

It says about itself:

Monitoring survey team WWF-Indonesia, collaborated with Kutai Barat District government and Mulawarman University, have discovered Sumatran Rhino trails in the forests of Kutai Barat District, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. February 2013.

From AFP news agency:

Cameras capture Sumatran rhino in Indonesian Borneo

JAKARTA – Hidden cameras have captured images of the critically endangered Sumatran rhino on the Indonesian part of Borneo island, where it was thought to have long ago died out, the WWF said on Wednesday.

Sixteen camera traps – remote-controlled cameras with motion sensors frequently used in ecological research – filmed the rhino walking through the forest and wallowing in mud in Kutai Barat, East Kalimantan province.

The footage, filmed on June 23, June 30 and August 3, is believed to show different rhinos although the WWF said confirmation of this will require further study.

There were once Sumatran rhinos all over Borneo but their numbers have dwindled dramatically and they were thought to now exist only on the Malaysian part of the island.

Indonesia refuses permission for Sumatran rhinos to be shipped to Cincinnati Zoo: here.